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September 06, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-06

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al

OPINION

page 4
LI

Friday, September 6, 1985

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Mismatched expectations

Vol. XCVI, No. 2

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Untangling a mess

W ITH ONE swoop of the gavel
Ingham County Circuit Court
fudge Caroline Stell passed
judgement on two distince University,
ssues.
Last month, Stell ruled against the
gniversity in a decision which
pholds the state's jurisdiction in
emanding that the University divest
jtself of all its holding in companies
hat do business with South Africa.
,. While the suit obviously deals with
the question of University holding in
South African companies, it also begs
the question of the University's
autonomy from the state gover-
nment.
The debate over University
holdings in South Africa is fairly
young. Alternately raging and slum-
bering since the early 1960s, the final
chapter in the controversy seemed to
have come in 1982 when the state
legislature passed its law requiring
all state universities to divest them-
selves of their holdings in South
Africa. However, when the Univer-
sity took the state to court, it opened
another chapter to create an even
longer saga.
There have been disputes over the
University's autonomy since it was
founded. The regents have under-
standably worked to retain as much
direct control over the University's
financial and academic resources as
possible.
There are so many factors involved in
the question that the issue can be
bewildering. On the one hand, an
autonomous University is able to
respond more directly to its own
needs and to more readily establish
its own direction as it competes with

other universities. On the other, it is
in less of a position to respond to the
needs of the citizens of the state, its
ultimate owners.
The question of divestment from
South Africa is more clear cut.
Without some significant outside
pressure, South Africa is doomed to a
bloody civil war. The riots and
isolated killings that currently seem
uncountable could be mere prelude to
the violence of a full-scale uprising.
With the U.S. government curren-
tly unwilling to place economic san-
ctions on South Africa, it be-
comes the responsibility of investors
throughout the country to
voluntarily divest, simultaneously
applying economic and moral
pressure. Before 1982, the University
had over $50 million in companies
doing business in south Africa. Since
the court ruling it has divested 90
percent but still has $5.5 million
fueling the South African economy.
The tangle could have been avoided
entirely if the University had agreed
to divest earlier, but now the two
questions are inextricably linked.
And the problem will continue now
that the University has announced its
intention to appeal Stell's ruling.
A best case scenario would have the
University divesting its holdings and
making its case for autonomy on
another issue. But as the current con-
troversy drags on, chances for such a
graceful way out diminish.
For now, unfortunately, it's a
waiting game until the courts take ac-
tion on the appeal; and the price of
that wait is the University's ability to
take a stand against the repugnancies
of apartheid South Africa.

By Robert Honigman
First in a seriesr
Faculty at major universities want un-
dergraduates to act like graduate appren-
tices, both socially and intellectually, and
when a particular undergraduate deviatesf
from this norm they tend to say that het
"doesn't belong at a university. " Sincet
only a minority of undergraduates have=
either the talent or the motivation to act
like apprentice scholars, many professors
disclaim responsibility for the majority,
urge more selective admission, and hope ..c
. they will educate one another or pick up
something in the library or from lectures.
-Christopher Jenks and David Riesman,t
1968. * * *
Despite the great successes of the American
university, a prediction made by the Russian
anarchist Mikhail Bakunin seems to be coming
true. He warned that if we entrusted an
academic elite with power such a governing
oligarchy would lose the desire to educate andf
instead would direct its activities to per-t
petuating its power "by rending the societyt
confided to its care more stupid and con-r
1 sequently more in need of its government and
direction.''.
The past decade has seen a drastic decline in
the SAT scores of American youth. In absolute
numbers, young people seem to be losing in-
terest in academic achievement. They turn to
drugs, alcohol, religion, suicide, rock-stars,
astrology, cults - almost anything but
education. Those who do embrace education
become technical specialists, dedicated to a
narrow perfectionism and an obsession with
power - unconscious of our heritage of
humanistic values or democratic traditions.nd
The disembodied itellect, pedantic and
sterile, coldly ambitious, without the
restraining influence of values or affection, is
the product of something I call "academic
alienation"
Academic alienation occurs when what is
taught has little relationship to the interest or
inner needs of the student. When education is
imposed by training and fear, or motivated byj
greed and some external reward, the mind
splits off frombeing a personal possession and
Honigman is an attorney in Sterling Heights.

becomes a tool of others.
There are both practical and theoretical
reasons why academic alienation may be
widespread in the modern university.
In an important but little known self-study
done at State University of New York at Stony
Brook it was found that the research oriented
faculty expected students to be interested in
their disciplines, to have the maturity and
background to connect the minutia of
specialized courses into a general framework
of knowledge, and to be able to see the relevan-
ce of it to their lives and the world. But to
students, the courses were boring, "mousey"
and "picayune." They had little or no relevan-
ce to intellectual or emotional lives of a
majority of undergraduate students.
The Stony Brook study found that there were
two Stony Brooks, one for specialized students
who knew what they wanted and were truly
happy with their pre-professionalttraining and
course work, and a "second Stony Brook"
where a majority of students merely went
through the motions of studying and learning
without any enthusiasm or great interest.
Through a process of mutual apathy, the
faculty and a majority of students simply drif-
ted apart. The faculty got by teaching indif-
ferent students, and students got by doing rote
memorization and grade grubbing.
It's not surprising that undergraduate
education at most universities is likely to be
unstimulating. Clark Kerr once remarked that
at large universities "educational policy from
the undergraduate point of view is largely
neglected." Undergraduate education at such
universities is normally used as a financial
resevoir to subsidize both graduate education
and research, leaving little behind for un-
dergraduates.
But even if undergraduate education were
well-funded, there would still be a fundamental
gap between the expectations of faculty and
undergraduates. Research faculty are in-
terested in their little explored and even less
understood "frontiers of knowledge", and want
apprentices and assistants in this, their life's
work. As Christopher Jencks and David
Riesman have noted, departments controlled
by research faculty tend "to offer a pre-
graduatemajor aimed almost exclusivelyat
future professionals. This major is deliberately
made sufficiently disciplined and difficult so
that 'dilettantes' will stay away." Research
faculty are interested in studentssonly as
resources to aid them in their research goals.

Undergraduates, on the other hand have a
different set of expectations. They want their
curiosity satisfied. They want a broad in-
troduction to the social and moral problems of
the day. They want to gain a sense of mastery
over subjects that are relevant to their im-
mediate lives. They want rewarding courses
and good teaching. Faculty and administrators
are perceived only as resources for the
satisfaction of student goals.
The dedication of faculty and departments to
their own professional disciplines, while
exemplary from the point of view of graduate
education and research, is a disaster to un-
dergraduate education. It has rewarded
research over teaching. It has inhibited the
development and success of interdisciplinary
and general education courses designed to give
students a broad introduction to human culture
and knowledge. And it has encouraged th
proliferation of specialized courses. Mor
than 3,000 undergraduate liberal arts courses
are offered to undergraduates by the Univer-
sity of Michigan, although the average student
needs only 40 to graduate. It's unlikely that any
student stumbling through this maze will
possess a true liberal education.
The gap between faculty and student expec-
tations is a classic tragedy in the sense that
each side is sincere in believing that they are
doing their best and that the other side is
selfish and irresponsible. Sadly, there is no
political mechanism in the modern universityW
to balance the goals and values of faculty with
those of undergraduates and find a common
ground. Undergraduate needs are too frequen-
tly ridiculed and belittled as immature and
irrelevant to the work of a university.
Like all oligarchies, the officialdom of the
modern university have a vested interest in
denying that they are failing to serve the
people they rule, so the problem of academic
alienation is never admitted or explored. Of-
ficially it doesn't exist.
Yet how can academic alienation not exis*
when education doesn't respond to the wishes
and needs of students? How can you separate
education from emotion? What kind of
educated person do you produce if you ignore
curiosity, enthusiasm, interest and joy in lear-
ning? You won't find the answers to that in a
book. You'll find it in your own lives.
Monday: "Academics breed elitism"

04

Powell

Baby steps

THE OFFICE OF Admissions' be-
lated but ambitious minority
recruitment efforts have been rewar-
ded with a .2 percent increase in
black student enrollment at the
University: a tiny but respectable
step towards the long-term goal of
recruiting, retaining and graduating
a 10 percent black student population.
The efforts of the admissions staff
to reach prospective students has ex-
panded to involve current University
students and alumni. Substantial in-
creases in financial aid will make the
University accessable to a greater
number of black students over the
next five years.
Certainly the Administration's
gains are commendable, but the
Michigan Student Assembly's
Recruitment, Retention, and
Graduation project exposes a number
of critical social realities which
deserve the full attention of Dr. Niara
Sudarkasa, associate Vice President
for academic affairs, and her staff.
The MSA-RRG, an "action oriented
research project" points to a critical
factor the University has given
curiously cursory attention: the
cultivation and maintenance of an
environment that makes the Univer-

sity a comfortable place for black
students.
Attrition rates indicate that ad-
mission to the University for many
black students becomes a cruel sort
of practical joke: an academic ver-
sion of "all-dressed-up-but-no-place-
to-go."
MSA-RRG calls for the integration
of the "human touch" into the world
of the black University student who
may not have the built-in security
provided by a fraternity, sorority or
athletic team.
The MSA-RRG blueprint for
achieving the retention and
graduation of growing numbers of
black students calls chiefly for the
centralization of "support systems."
Support systems sounds like
dangerously ambigious and ineffec-
tive stuff, when in fact the jargon
represents ideas the University needs
to apply more frequently and sin-
cerely. The Black Student Union,
black panhellenic organizations,
black upperclass students and con-
cerned faculty need to coordinate and
complement one another's efforts to
create a challenging yet comfortable
environment for black students at the
University-an open invitation.

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Tampering' with Daily tradition

By Jody Becker
Minutes after I walked
through the door of my parents
home for a brief vacation
following a summer of inter-
ning in Washington, D.C., my
mom handed me a neat sheaf of
computerized correspondence:
a letter from the editor.
Each electronically ordered
line and word appeared decep-
tively unemotional, but the
feelings were full. What
Michigan Daily editor-in-chief
Neil Chase advertised in his
opening paragraph as "news
and analysis" of internalDaily
developments was more ac-
curately a sort of open love let-
ter.
Last winter, in the throes of
financial desperation, faced
with mounting deficits, a reluc-
tant Daily staff voted to "free

fellow reporters. "Incentive to
produce a quality newspaper
will be lost," said others.
"We're turning our backs on
tradition," protested one senior
editor whose father before him
worked on the Daily.
Free drop,(or the availability
of the Daily across campus free
of charge) as I see it, is a keen
economic and populist move:
dramatically increased cir-
culation should mean a paper
that informs, impacts and en-
tertains a greater audience,
while attracting more adver-
tisers -- a boon to both the news
and business staffs.
Still, there are ever greater
compromises, I learned from
the letter. The Daily's
vererable six-day schedule has
been reduced to five days: a
sacrifice that must be made to

pay for increased press runs to
reach the greater community.
The letter called the
discouraging publishing cut-
back an "investment", and I
applaud its optimism. Tem-
porarily, at least, the Daily is
losing the day-after colorful
weekend sports and arts cover-
age the staff works hard to
provide. And while editors and
reporters have gained long-lost
and longed for Friday and
Saturday night social freedom,
there is a palpable remorse.
Still, I was certain that on
September 3 at 1 p.m., which
was designated as the first
mandatory news staff meeting
of the year, my friends, fellow
reporters and editors would
find their way to 420 Maynard
St., ready to begin production of
a paper entering a critical ex-

perimental and necessarily
progressive year.
I wasn't disappointed.
It is the Ann Arbor and
University community's collec-
tive support which will deter-
mine the success of our efforts.
Read the Daily, respond to our
coverage and editorial
statements and patronize our
advertisers. Allow free drop to"
enhance The Michigan Daily in
becoming a vehicle for the in-
creased awareness and interac-;
tion of a vital intellectual ani
artistic community. Honor our
continuing commitment to
"Ninety-six Years of Editorial
Freedom". Letrour coverage be
criticized or celebrated,
maligned or praised, but help
keep the Daily alive.
by Berke Breathed,

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Letters to the Daily should be typed,

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